Guide 11
Guide 11
Using an Analysis Journal
A research artifact created to capture the messiness, patterns, and insights of data analysis
Review before collecting data; use when analyzing; when conducting strategic or exploratory research
Step 1

Write down the study goals

Pick something that you can write and doodle with. You want to be flexible when you analyze your data, making it very easy to take notes, draw diagrams, and have a running conversation with yourself about the data.

Write and number your research questions and hypotheses (as shown in the example below):

Example Analysis journal
  • RQ 1 - Why do non-Japanese speakers use the Japanese news app?;
  • RQ 1a - what language do these app users speak?
  • RQ 1b - where do these app users live?
  • RQ 2 - How often do these non-Japanese speaking app users interact with the app in a month?

TIP: Use combinations like a tablet & stylus or a pencil & paper can be effective and usable across studies.

TIP: If you can, select digital tools that sync across devices to access your notes easily.

Step 2

Take regular notes about what you’re doing

How you cleaned your data, why some codes are used, or topics you must report on can all be written in the journal. At the end of the study, someone should be able to read through your journal to understand better how you came to your final findings.

TIP: You can use a portion of the journal as a checklist to help you stay focused during your analysis.

TIP: Create a section at the start of the journal for your reflexive thoughts. See Collection 3, Handbook 2, Topic 2 for more.

Step 3

Doodle & diagram often

Don’t just stick to writing! Make sure you’re drawing diagrams and illustrations about your data. The journal is flexible, so allow yourself the chance to see patterns visually that are harder to see when dealing with mounds of data.

TIP: Consider having a visual system to categorize your notes. For example, you write all your thoughts in squares, research findings in circles, and recommendations inside triangles. It’ll help you quickly find what you’ve need or learned when you’re finalizing your report content.

Step 4

Write interpretations and insights in their own style or design

Every so often, ask yourself questions about what you’re doing. “What does this mean?”, “Why is this important to you or your stakeholders?” or “What is the data telling you?” Write down the answers and engage in a dialogue with yourself about the data. Your goal is to make sense of your data and interpret it, not describe it.

(Optional) Step 5

Review past journals and improve them

Between studies, review what parts of your journal were helpful in making sense of your data. You can look to standardize these elements, making each future study more consistent and intentional. While each study will be unique, how you use your journal doesn’t have to be!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3